Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique, Oliver Laxe’s mesmerizing, minimalist “Eastern western” follows a caravan transporting the body of a sheik to his remote resting place in the perilous wilderness of the Moroccan desert.
Inspired in part by the director's itinerant travels and his immersion in Sufism, Mimosas — which was first glimpsed as the film-within-the-film in Ben Rivers' The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers — is by turns heady and epiphanic as it explores cinema's possibilities of representing the ineffable.
Shot against the backdrop of Morocco's staggering Atlas Mountains, Mimosas seems to take place at some strange intersection of the ancient and modern worlds. A young, wild-eyed preacher (Shakib Ben Omar) is summoned from the city to join a caravan escorting a dying sheik to a medieval city, where he is to be buried. When the sheik dies en route and members of the convoy refuse to traverse the treacherous terrain, the young man assumes command of the reduced expedition and leads them on towards their distant goal. As they navigate the simultaneously sublime and perilous landscape and face tests of will, faith, and endurance, the men discover the wages of fear.
With its supernal vistas and soft rhythms enhanced by Mauro Herce's stunning 16mm cinematography, Mimosas is spellbinding in its beauty, imbuing both the physical and metaphysical quest at its centre with a sense of awe and wonder, but also duty and dignity. Uncannily echoing Biblical sagas and westerns classic and revisionist (along with hints of Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala and even Van Sant's Gerry), Laxe deftly maintains his film's many enigmas, the work's near-parabolic form suggesting life's diverse and mystical paths, the measures of belief, and the potential for encounters with the divine.